The Philomath Community Carnival will run from 5:30-8:30 p.m. Friday at the high school. (Photo by Philomath Youth Activities Club)

The Philomath Community Carnival will return to Clemens Field for the first time since September 2019 after pandemic restrictions led to the cancellation of the popular youth event in both 2020 and 2021.

The carnival represents the Philomath Youth Activities Club’s second-largest fundraiser of the year, director Eddie Van Vlack said.

“Anytime you can find a fundraiser that makes money and then everybody enjoys it and has fun, it’s a win-win,” Van Vlack said. “Outside of the Annual Fund (kick-off dinner held late in the year), it’s our next-biggest fundraiser, so not having had that the last two years has been challenging.”

The carnival will run from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Friday, June 3 on the football field at Philomath High School. In the case of poor weather, the event will be moved inside the PHS gymnasiums.

Admission to the event is free but games, rides and food will be available for a set number of tickets. Unlimited attraction wristbands will be available for $20 each for ages 7 and older and $15 each for 6 and under.

Those who have gone to past carnivals will recognize familiar activities — several inflatables of all shapes and sizes, various games and a silent auction. What is different this time around is the time of year that the carnival takes place. It’s been a fall event in the past.

“The reason is we’ve been wanting to experiment with moving it to the summer now for a while just to see how it goes with a kind of an end-of-the-year school thing,” Van Vlack said.

But beyond that reason, Van Vlack said the funding cycle came into play with the need to spend a significant amount of sponsorship dollars within the current budget year — this fall would be too late.

“So we thought well, now’s as good of a time as any to try to do it in the summer and see how it goes,” Van Vlack said, adding that he hopes the nice weather this week holds out through Friday. “If we don’t have the turnout that we normally do, then we’ll certainly look at moving back to the fall. But we’re cautiously optimistic that people are going to like it at the end of the (school) year.”

S&K Inflatables is a longtime major partner with PYAC to put on the event.

“We’re scheduled to have 10 of the large inflatables,” Van Vlack said. “In the event that the weather is not as good and we have to go inside the high school … we’ll have less space and we may have to go down to seven or eight inflatables rather than 10. But we’ll see how that goes.”

Van Vlack anticipates anywhere from 10 to 20 carnival-style games to be set up. The games include punch cards that the kids can fill up and turn in for a drawing of prizes at the end of the evening.

“They put their little card in the raffle bucket for whatever prizes that they want to try to win and that’s always the funnest part of the night because you know, the kids have been playing the whole night and they’re all excited … and their faces are all read and they’re just looking at you hoping to get their name draw for one of those prizes.”

Because of the carnival’s time frame, PYAC has arranged for food to be available — including hamburgers and hot dogs thanks to Farmers Insurance agent Gary White, who shows up with his OSU Beavers barbecue.

“We don’t usually make any money on that; we do that more of just a service to the families because it’s happening right at supper time,” Van Vlack said. “So they can feed the kids, give them a little something in their belly.”

The evening also features a silent auction with everything from weekend getaways to wine tours to high-end binoculars.

PYAC relies heavily on sponsors and Van Vlack mentioned a new “grand slam” contributor in BOSS Sports Performance — the high-performance athletic training facility in Bend owned by former PHS football standout and NFL player Kevin Boss. Philomath Community Foundation and Rick Bennett’s S&K Inflatables are the other two big ones that make the event possible, Van Vlack said.

Brad Fuqua has covered the Philomath area since 2014 as the editor of the now-closed Philomath Express and currently as publisher/editor of the Philomath News. He has worked as a professional journalist since 1988 at daily and weekly newspapers in Nebraska, Kansas, North Dakota, Arizona, Montana and Oregon.